The first DiMaggio brother to sign a major league contract. Though he was overshadowed by his younger brother, Joe, Vince boasted his own impressive major league career.
Vince quit high school to join the minor league San Francisco Seals in the early 1930s and soon brought his younger brother, Joe, to the team as shortstop. Vince was the first DiMaggio to sign a professional baseball contract, though he was soon followed by Joe and their youngest brother, Dom. Vince was not gifted with his brothers’ knack for hitting the ball — he once admitted that he “just didn’t have the batting eye” — but he did go on to a respectable career in the major leagues.
In 1937, his rookie year with the Braves, he drove in 69 runs, with 13 homeruns and a batting average of .256. He was traded to the Reds in 1939 and joined the Pirates near the end of the 1940 season, where he stayed until 1944.
He hit his career peak with Pittsburgh, making the National League All-Star team in both 1943 and 1944. Vince had a great year in 1944, hitting 21 home runs and 100 RBIs. He was traded to Philadelphia in 1945, where he remained until the end of the 1946 season, which he finished out with the New York Giants before retiring from baseball.
While Joe was voted the “Greatest Living Player” in baseball and Dom made his mark as the youngest (and perhaps most determined) DiMaggio, Vince possessed another talent, this one having nothing to do with baseball: a beautiful singing voice. The story is that when banker A.P. Gianni heard Vince sing, he offered to send him to Italy for operatic training, but there wasn’t enough money around the DiMaggio household to send Vince overseas. Vince DiMaggio will also definitely be remembered as the man who gave Joe DiMaggio his first entry into baseball.
Vince DiMaggio died on October 3, 1986 in N. Hollywood, California, and was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.